The U.S. Appeals Court for the Federal Circuit in Washington threwout a lower court's injunction preventing Novo Nordisk A/S fromselling its FDA-approved human growth hormone pending resolutionof the company's patent battle with Genentech Inc.

The ruling allows Novo Nordisk, of Bagsvaerd, Denmark, to beginselling its product, Norditropin, in the U.S. immediately. NovoNordisk officials said Tuesday they could not estimate when the drugwould be launched on the market.

Genentech, of South San Francisco, won the preliminary injunction inU.S. District Court in New York last summer against Novo Nordiskand Bio-Technology General Corp., of Iselin, N.Y.

Bio-Technology General _ whose growth hormone, Bio-Tropin,also has been approved by the FDA _ argued for reversal of theinjunction at the same hearing as Novo Nordisk, but the AppealsCourt has not issued a decision on Bio-Technology's case.

Genentech has alleged that its patents on growth hormone areinfringed by both Novo Nordisk and Bio-Technology. No trial dateshave been scheduled in the patent fights.

Genentech commands 75 percent of the U.S. growth hormone marketwith two products, Protropin and Nutropin. Eli Lilly and Co., ofIndianapolis, which makes Humatrope, has the other 25 percent. U.S.growth hormone sales total about $350 million.

The drugs are used to treat short children suffering from growthhormone deficiencies.

Genentech officials said Tuesday they were reviewing the AppealsCourt ruling and were evaluating their options.

The three companies also are awaiting a ruling on Genentech'sappeal of an International Trade Commission decision, whichdismissed its patent infringement complaints. n

-- Charles Craig

(c) 1997 American Health Consultants. All rights reserved.